My mom is great. I know a lot of girls have problems with one or both of their parents, and I know I would be a lot cooler if I was more rebellious, but that’s just not me. My mom’s always been willing to listen to me and, sure, she sets some rules that I have to live by but they’re not that crazy and if I need to do something like stay out late, I can always tell her why.
Given that, it should have been a lot easier to approach her with the idea that I’d brought a talking cat home and let my shadow run free. It should have been, but it wasn’t.
I stood frozen at the top of the stairs and couldn’t articulate, even to myself, why I was so afraid to let her see me. I didn’t think she would yell at me. I wasn’t supposed to have pets, but I could have September talk to her and she would see that he wasn’t exactly a pet. I was supposed to have a shadow, but I didn’t think that was something she’d blame me for. Not if I explained what it was like to have someone else moving my hands and body around.
“Penny? Are you coming?” Mom called out.
Not yet mom, I wanted to say.
Can I just stay up here? I wanted to ask her.
Except I knew that wasn’t an option. I couldn’t dodge out of helping with the groceries without raising some of her suspicions and for the time being that was the last thing I wanted to do.
“Yes, mom!” I called out and hurled myself forward and down the stairs before my feet could freeze in place.
I arrived at the front door just in time to see my mom struggling to open it again, this time with four bags weighing her arms down.
That would sure be easier with a flying broom, I thought as I held the door open for her.
“There’s four more in the back of the car,” she said. “Don’t try to bring them all in at once though.”
“Ok, I’ll go get them!”, I said, knowing that she meant ‘bring in two’, not ‘watch while I haul in the rest’. The important thing was that she was still focused on the groceries and hadn’t noticed my lack of a shadow. I took that as the gift that it was and hustled out to the car (and out of her sight) as quick as I could.
The remaining bags were the heavy ones. They were filled with packages of meat, bottles of ice tea, and other hefty items. I picked what looked like the two heaviest ones and trudged back inside, wondering what it would take for me to make a flying broom of my own.
Assuming I really was a witch.
“How was school?” my mom asked when I plopped the bags down on the counter.
“Pretty good,” I said as I got the items that needed refrigeration out of the bags.
“How did you history test go?” she asked.
“Good, except there was a question on George Washington that I think we all missed,” I said. “He wasn’t supposed to be on a test till the section after the Revolution but the last question asked which troops he first commanded.”
I twitched, I hadn’t meant to mention the part about George Washington, but I’d been distracted looking for my shadow.
“Did you study that?”
“No, I thought we’d get to it later,” I said.
“That’s not a good thing to count on,” Mom said. “How about after school?”
What I wanted to say was ‘nothing much happened, I just came home’. What I actually said was:
“I met a witch.”
The words tumbled right out of my mouth before I could stop them.
“A witch? Where did you go?” Mom asked.
“I walked around for a bit,” I said, again unable to stop myself from talking.
“Well be careful where you go,” Mom said. “You know we don’t like you walking too far away from home.”
“I know,” I said, throwing the words out before I could get myself into anymore trouble. “It was just such a nice day though.”
“I suppose we’re not going to have many more like this one,” she said.
“I saw some frost on the grass this morning,” I said, again blurting out the words before I had a chance to sabotage myself any further.
“I just hope we don’t have a white Halloween again this year,” Mom said. “The snows can should wait till December when we’ll be happy to see them.”
“I wouldn’t mind a day off from school though!” I said. I felt like I was in the middle of a minefield. Each thing that Mom said demanded that I say something in return, whether it was a question or not, and if she started talking about anything related to this afternoon my mouth seemed to want to talk all about the things I’d seen.
“And then you’ll be complaining in June when you’re stuck in school and its hot as a desert outside,” she said.
“All the better to be in a nice air conditioned classroom,” I said. It sounded ridiculous to me, but I’d been about to say ‘I’m not sure if I’ll be school in June, since I might be training as a witch instead’ and that would have raised all kinds of questions I didn’t want to answer or even get anywhere near.
“Do you have homework tonight?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, eager to have a safe question to respond to. Especially one that offered me an escape. “I should try to get some done, unless you need my help with dinner?”
“No, I’m fine here,” she said. “Just bring in the other two bags first ok?”
“Sure!” I said and raced out to the car.
I grabbed the bags and dropped them on the kitchen table before scampering upstairs to my room.
“Are you ok?” September asked as I closed the door.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t know how to shut up anymore!”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Anytime someone asks me a question, or even speaks to me, I can’t stop myself from talking!” I said. “I told my Mom I met a witch this afternoon!”
“That might be because your shadow is gone,” September said.
“What? Why would that be?” I asked.
“Well you weren’t like that before right?” he said.
“So maybe that’s what your shadow let you do,” he said. “Hide things.”
I thought about Dad getting home, and dinner, and school tomorrow. I didn’t want people to know that I was a witch now, but I just knew I was going to blab it all out the first time I tried to talk to anybody.
There was only one thing to do.
I picked up my phone.